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The Stone Age

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Jen Hadfield’s new collection is an astonished beholding of the wild landscape of her Shetland home, a tale of hard-won speech, and the balm of the silence it rides upon. The Stone Age builds steadily to a powerful and visionary panpsychism: in Hadfield’s telling, everything – gate and wall, flower and rain, shore and sea, the standing stones whose presences charge the lan Jen Hadfield’s new collection is an astonished beholding of the wild landscape of her Shetland home, a tale of hard-won speech, and the balm of the silence it rides upon. The Stone Age builds steadily to a powerful and visionary panpsychism: in Hadfield’s telling, everything – gate and wall, flower and rain, shore and sea, the standing stones whose presences charge the land – has a living consciousness, one which can be engaged with as a personal encounter. The Stone Age is a timely reminder that our neurodiversity is a gift: we do not all see the world the world in the same way, and Hadfield’s lyric line and unashamedly high-stakes wordplay provide nothing less than a portal into a different kind of being. The Stone Age is the work of a singular artist at the height of her powers – one which dramatically extends and enriches the range of our shared experience.


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Jen Hadfield’s new collection is an astonished beholding of the wild landscape of her Shetland home, a tale of hard-won speech, and the balm of the silence it rides upon. The Stone Age builds steadily to a powerful and visionary panpsychism: in Hadfield’s telling, everything – gate and wall, flower and rain, shore and sea, the standing stones whose presences charge the lan Jen Hadfield’s new collection is an astonished beholding of the wild landscape of her Shetland home, a tale of hard-won speech, and the balm of the silence it rides upon. The Stone Age builds steadily to a powerful and visionary panpsychism: in Hadfield’s telling, everything – gate and wall, flower and rain, shore and sea, the standing stones whose presences charge the land – has a living consciousness, one which can be engaged with as a personal encounter. The Stone Age is a timely reminder that our neurodiversity is a gift: we do not all see the world the world in the same way, and Hadfield’s lyric line and unashamedly high-stakes wordplay provide nothing less than a portal into a different kind of being. The Stone Age is the work of a singular artist at the height of her powers – one which dramatically extends and enriches the range of our shared experience.

35 review for The Stone Age

  1. 5 out of 5

    rosamund

    A unique, vivid journey into thought and landscape, this book repays reading and re-reading. I read it in one rapid burst shortly after I received it in late March, and have since been dipping in and out of it, and want to return to it again and again. Hadfield's use of language is fresh and completely absorbing: she has a unique way of capturing the essence of her subjects, whether they are limpets, stone circles, shadows or language itself. In this collection, she also pushes her use of the pa A unique, vivid journey into thought and landscape, this book repays reading and re-reading. I read it in one rapid burst shortly after I received it in late March, and have since been dipping in and out of it, and want to return to it again and again. Hadfield's use of language is fresh and completely absorbing: she has a unique way of capturing the essence of her subjects, whether they are limpets, stone circles, shadows or language itself. In this collection, she also pushes her use of the page in new directions: sections of this book appear in much larger, greyscale font, and take up the expanse of the page. These poems are generally short and yet expansive, full of immediacy and playful language: "fog pouring over / the whalebacked hill / fog and flowers a thousand years / the rustle of the fog the / soft roar of the pouring fog." As in her previous collections, The Stone Age explores Hadfield's adopted homeland of Shetland, capturing unexpected aspects of the natural world. In other reviews, much is made of the ways in which Hadfield inhabits other consciousnesses, such as a cliff or a mountain, but that wasn't the aspect of this collection that particularly struck me. Hadfield does gave space and texture to inanimate aspects of the landscape, but to me this gave a sense of how our own minds overlap with the world around us, and the sense of ourselves isn't always defined by the edges of our physical body. The collection also explores difference between minds, and how our internal landscape of thought is unique, and can be hard or impossible to communicate to others. Hadfield's poem Gaelic is a particularly moving example of this, capturing the difficulty of communication and the ways using spoken language can feel impossible, particularly of you are neuroatypical. "Neurodiversity" is described as one of the subjects of this collection and the various shapes of poems bring this across: that different ways of being allow us to experience new aspects of the world. Through Hadfield's exploration of consciousness, the reader of her collection comes to inhabit new ways of being. A complex, urgent and tender collection: highly recommended and deserves to win many awards.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tony

    Jen Hadfield's new collection of poetry is steeped in the landscape and light of Shetland, where she lives. In it, the land and the things in the land are given a voice: standing stones, flowers, rain, sea, cliffs, and rocks. And they have a real beauty to them, even if they are not always easy to unwrap. If you unwrap a poem. The collections also uses the page and the graphical topography. Certain poems are larger, solid letters in stone grey reflecting the "...lava slow/ and sometimes mangled/ Jen Hadfield's new collection of poetry is steeped in the landscape and light of Shetland, where she lives. In it, the land and the things in the land are given a voice: standing stones, flowers, rain, sea, cliffs, and rocks. And they have a real beauty to them, even if they are not always easy to unwrap. If you unwrap a poem. The collections also uses the page and the graphical topography. Certain poems are larger, solid letters in stone grey reflecting the "...lava slow/ and sometimes mangled/conglomorate/gray lag of language..."* of the standing stones themselves. Sometimes the text fades gently away. The thing I most like about this collection is the joy in words. The way that, read aloud, the words are as smooth as chocolate or as crunchy as Cornflakes. There are a scattering of Shetland words, of Scots and of - I think - Norse. This is a word bath where you can soak yourself to wash off the concerns of the day. Very fine work. *I can't do justice to the layout of this poem in a quote. Sorry.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Erica Lewis

    I read many of these out loud twice. That's a fairly good sign that it's a good collection. I read many of these out loud twice. That's a fairly good sign that it's a good collection.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Hamilton

    A new addition to Scottish nature poetry. You may need a dictionary in places but the sense of place and space is quite evocative.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Eve Paterson

  6. 4 out of 5

    Megan

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ada

  9. 5 out of 5

    David

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

  11. 5 out of 5

    Roseanna Pendlebury

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mark Sexton

  13. 5 out of 5

    Chris Dodd

  14. 5 out of 5

    Catrinamaria

  15. 4 out of 5

    Paul

  16. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  17. 4 out of 5

    Crystal

  18. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

  19. 5 out of 5

    NinjaAmmy

  20. 5 out of 5

    Stacey Kelly-Maher

  21. 4 out of 5

    Heather

  22. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

  23. 4 out of 5

    Junkyard Attic

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jeannie Stanley

  25. 5 out of 5

    Elijah MacBean

  26. 5 out of 5

    Wild Horses

  27. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte Kelly

  28. 4 out of 5

    Arianne

  29. 5 out of 5

    Les Nicholls

  30. 4 out of 5

    Will Vignoles

  31. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

  32. 5 out of 5

    Annelies

  33. 4 out of 5

    Deepthi Cm

  34. 5 out of 5

    Felix Maclean

  35. 4 out of 5

    Kay Eluned

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